NH Union Leader endorses Gingrich for president while blaming media for voter indecision

New Hampshire Union Leader | C-SPAN | CNN

The front-page editorial endorsing the former Speaker of the House and GOP presidential hopeful reads, in part:

Our nation is in peril, yet much of the attention has been focused on fluff, silliness and each candidate's minor miscues.

Truth be known, many in the liberal media are belittling the Republican candidates because they don't want any of them to be taken as a serious challenger to their man, Obama.

Publisher Joseph McQuaid elaborated on C-SPAN's "Washington Journal":

The polls show that [Mitt] Romney maintains a lead, which is understandable ... but the polls also show a tremendous amount of indecision on the part of the voters. And we said in the editorial that we thought that part of that was what has been the national media focus to date on the Republican campaign, which has been to really magnify every little mistake any one of them makes and not concentrate on the broader issues.

McQuaid explained how the endorsement was decided:

There's no great behind-the-scenes process. There are precisely two of us at the paper who write the editorials, myself and Drew Cline, who runs our editorial page, and he's been in on all the meetings with the candidates, although I've had occasion to go out to dinner with one or two of them separately to try to size them up as individuals. And we talk about it and we came to the conclusion a few weeks ago that it really came down to two or three candidates and who was going to best grab the moment and not really be a manager if he got into office.

Cline told CNN Sunday morning that those two candidates were Gingrich and Texas Gov. Rick Perry.

The paper, which has a conservative editorial voice, has endorsed many presidential candidates who did not go on to win the nomination or the election. View front page here.

Earlier this week, freelance writer Fergus Cullen explained "what NH endorsements say about the presidential race":

Leading in endorsements, as in the polls, is “Undecided.” The majority of state office holders, 52 percent, have not committed to any candidate. With just seven weeks to go, most of those probably never will.

Do endorsements matter? In New Hampshire, yes. ...

Thomas Caldwell at The Citizen said only Ron Paul has visited his paper, based in Belknap County, where the entire legislative delegation is Republican. “They’re mostly bypassing us,” Caldwell said. This week Jon Huntsman became the first candidate to visit the Salmon Press chain of weekly papers. Rick Perry eschewed editorial boards entirely in Texas, but is doing some here.

Editorial boards are much tougher than town hall meetings where, contrary to primary mythology, most questions are predictable and repetitive. This week Herman Cain appeared clueless about Libya while speaking to an editorial board in Wisconsin, which by the way is not an early state. Cain is not the only candidate to conclude that editorial board meetings can do more harm than good.

Also earlier this week, publisher McQuaid gave thanks for the paper's near-miss with Cain:

I was going to write about Herman Cain and the “interview that wasn't” here at the Union Leader last Thursday, but it's not worth much ink. We had an earlier interview here with him and I found him a likeable, intelligent guy with a good sense of humor. But Cain is going nowhere fast this presidential season, so I will only say that (a) he is not well-served by his staff; and (b) it is funny that in an era when candidates complain about the drive-by media, the Cain campaign cancels an hour-long interview with the state newspaper.

McQuaid also expressed gratitude that "the Union Leader and most other New Hampshire newspapers remain independently owned and operated."

I thought of this the other day when reading that longtime Concord Monitor Publisher George Wilson had died. His Monitor, and Lebanon Valley News, are worthy competitors and adversaries. It is no easy task to compete with the faceless and remote mass and massive media these days. But as a Granite Stater, I'm thankful so many do.

CNN details the paper's past endorsements:

The conservative Union Leader editorial page has a history of passing over the front-runner in its selections. The paper endorsed Ronald Reagan in 1976 and 1980, Deleware Gov. Pete DuPont in 1988, Reagan aide Pat Buchanan in 1992 and 1996, businessman Steve Forbes in 2000, and Arizona Sen. John McCain in 2008.

Related: Gingrich meets with Union Leader editorial board || Previously: Newspaper endorsements shift from GOP to split in last 40 years | Are endorsements a journalistic obligation? | Do newspaper endorsements matter? | Don't blame us, we endorsed...


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